Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Naxos in Greece, along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
Naxos is one of the most popular Greek islands, and it’s a great destination for families and those who want to experience Cycladic culture and history. The main town Naxos City, also referred to as Chora has a population of 7374 according to the latest census.
The island of Naxos has a rich history to tell, and according to Greek mythology, it was here in a cave on Mt Zas that Zeus himself is said to have been raised. Moreover, archaeological findings dating back 200,000 years have been found on Naxos, meaning that the island has been inhabited since at least the Middle Paleolithic era.
In this article, I’m sharing some of the best places to visit in Naxos as well as attractions and activities that shouldn’t be missed while visiting.
The castle of Naxos acts as a protective shield to the fortress of Sanoudos and was built under the supervision of Markos II Sanoudos. The most remarkable feature of the castle is its pentagonal shape.
The imposing Glezos Tower is another remarkable feature of the castle. It is situated next to the northwestern gate. A walk through the remains of the castle is a journey back in time that shouldn’t be missed.
Plaka Beach is one of the most popular beaches of Naxos and still preserves its original character. Previously, the beach was known as a spot for nudists, but in recent years many families and other visitors are coming to the beach as well.
The naturists, who still come here, are moving towards the southern end of the beach. It’s a very long and wide beach with plenty of room for everyone.
There are also several options for accommodation that is available by the beach, and most of them are family-owned. In addition to smaller hotels, one can also find lovely taverns that offer great local cuisine and a nice view of the sea.
Mount Zas is a highlight of the island, not just because it’s the highest point of the Cyclades but also because this is the summit on which, according to Greek mythology, Zeus was raised during his youth.
The hike to the summit of Mount Zas is relatively short but can be steep and challenging in certain spots. All the effort needed to get to the top is worth it, the breathtaking views are amazing and unmatched in the Cyclades.
The Della Rocca-Barozzi tower, located within the citadel of Naxos, is home to this fascinating history museum. The tower served as a Venetian military headquarter and the objects that are displayed here today reflect this historic chapter of Naxos.
Don’t miss the interesting tour around the museum by Nikos Karavias. He is a member of the family that initially owned the tower. Amongst the exhibits on display are pieces of furniture, paintings, and garments.
Alyko Beach is one of the most popular stretches of land for water lovers on Naxos. It is not just one of the biggest beaches on the island but also one of the most beautiful. The Alyko beach is known for its white sand and surrounding cedar trees.
It’s also a great place for nature-lovers as there is no infrastructure here at all. There are no sundecks to be rented, no watersports, and no hotels. Just water, sand, sunshine, and untouched nature.
The beach is also relatively quiet and doesn’t see too many visitors, making it even more attractive for people that prefer natural beaches over well-developed tourist spots.
Vallindras Kitron Distillery
One of Naxos’ most popular exports is the delicious citron liqueur Kitron. The main ingredients are the fruits and leaves of the citron tree. This place has a long tradition dating back to 1896 when the Vallindras Kitron Distillery opened in Naxos.
The distillery can be visited and has partially been turned into a museum. A great place to not just taste the famous liquor but also to learn about its history and how it’s made.
The lovely family-owned distillery exhibits many tools and traditional machinery that was used to produce the famous Kitron liqueur as well.
The Portara is a remnant of the Naxos Apollo Temple and has developed into one of the most iconic landmarks and tourist attractions of the island. The Portara is a massive marble doorway and is located on the islet of Palatia.
Easy access to the islet is provided by a causeway that was built to connect Palatia to the mainland. The Portara is a perfect place to take pictures and enjoy the views over the sea and harbor.
Aqua Fun Water Park
A great place for children and water-lovers alike is the Aqua Fun Water Park in Stelida. The water park offers well-maintained facilities including various themed water slides that are fun for both adults and children.
There are also various pools available suitable for swimming and relaxing. A lifeguard is always on duty making sure everyone is safe. Hungry visitors can make use of the cafeteria and mini market or visit the pool bar.
Visiting the Aqua Fun Water Park is one of the best things to do in Naxos with kids. Embrace your inner child and join the fun or let your kids splash around with other children.
Naxos is home to many interesting churches, one of the most remarkable ones is the Panagia Drossiana. The name of the church means “Dewy Virgin” in English. The Panagia Drossiana is the oldest church of the island and has an immense historical significance.
What makes a visit to the church a great experience is the unique architectural style in which it is built. The Panagia Drossiani features bare stone-walls, a three-part attic with a dome, and three adjoining chapels. Don’t miss the lovely courtyard of the church.
Agios Georgios Diasoritis
Another interesting church is the Saint George Diasoritis. This Byzantine church is situated in the center of Naxos and is around 600 meters away from the Halki village.
Visitors are drawn to the church due to its fantastic wall paintings, decorations, stone arches, and tombs (most of which are empty). The frescoes on the inside of the church are mostly well-preserved and feature impressive use of colors and illustrations.
Walks along the mountainous surroundings of the church shouldn’t be missed. This is a very authentic and peaceful part of Naxos. To get here, I recommend driving a scooter or renting a car.
Monastery of Fotodotis
The Monastery of Fotodotis is located next to Danakos, on top of a hill at an altitude of 500 m. The view from the monastery is breathtaking, you can marvel at the beautiful sea and the island of Donoussa.
The way the monastery is built closely resembles that of a fortress. This is largely due to the fortification walls that were built here in the 16th century.
The many attractive frescoes give the monastery a charming interior as well. On the 6th of August, the annual pilgrimage to the monastery takes place, which is a great chance to experience the local culture and traditions.
Agia Anna Beach
Agia Anna is one of the most popular beaches on Naxos and impresses its visitors with a long sandy beach and a picturesque port. It is easy to get here with public transport from Naxos Town.
Due to the proximity to the coastal road, you can just leave the beach and hop on a bus and travel around the island. Agia Anna is a developed beach, you will find all the necessary facilities here.
Many of the lovely taverns offer beautiful views over the beach and are an inviting place to enjoy some Greek food with a Naxian touch.
Xanemo Sailing offers great tours around the smaller islands of the Cyclades. It offers private trips as well as semi-private sailing tours with a maximum of 10 sailors.
The experienced skippers lead you to secluded bays and other beautiful places. Lunch, drinks, and small snacks are served on the boats. Sailing around the island is definitely one of the best things to do in Naxos.
The staff speaks several European languages and is very accommodating. There are various special offers available as well, such as honeymoon packages or food and wine tasting trips.
Chora (Naxos City)
Chora is the old town and harbor of the main town of Naxos. Even though the town is very popular due to its fine architecture, it has managed to preserve its authentic and traditional character.
The biggest attraction is the imposing Venetian castle. It was built here by Marco Sanudo to establish Naxos as the seat of the Duchy of the Aegean. Furthermore, guests can visit the Archaeological Museum of Naxos which is also located in Chora.
Most of the important infrastructure of the city can be found in the port area. These include banks, luggage storage facilities, rental companies, and the main bus stop of the town.
Temple of Demeter
The finest local marble was used to construct the Temple of Demeter in the 6th century BC. According to Greek mythology, Demeter was the goddess of grain, which is why people build temples dedicated to her to improve their farming yields.
After the arrival of Christianity, the temple quickly degraded. Today only the ruins of the once marvelous temple remain. And even though much of the glory of the temple was lost, the sight is still a good place to learn about the history and get in touch with the ancient past of Naxos.
Interesting facts about Naxos
- It’s the largest island in the Cyclades
- The island of Naxos is said to be the birthplace of Dionysus and home to Zeus.
- Naxos has a long tradition of mining Emery, which has been on-going for at least 2000 years.
- The lands of Naxos are known for being very fertile, and agriculture is one of the main sectors of the Naxian economy.
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